“What can we do for you?” Hades repeated impatiently.
“Well, you see,” Orpheus said, “I haven’t died yet.”
That news caused stirring amongst the judges. They muttered, glancing at each other. Hades shot a look at Cassandra.
“Then how did you come to be here?” she asked.
“My mother is the muse Calliope—”
“I should have known you were a demigod!” I interrupted. “I didn’t know about the eyes thing when I met you, but it was so obvious. I mean, well, if anyone was a demigod it would be you.”
“Well—” Orpheus shifted uncomfortably “—I’m human for all practical purposes. I’m just gifted with music.”
I sighed. “You sure are.” Oh my God! Did I just say that out loud? How humiliating.
“Calliope herself is a fairly minor deity,” Hades explained, ignoring my faux pas. “Well, sub-deity. She’s a singer of some renown herself. You may know her as . . . ” He paused. “What does she go by now, Cassandra?”
Cassandra supplied the name, and my jaw dropped. “She’s your mother?”
Orpheus shrugged. “Yes, but we don’t advertise that fact. The lack of age difference would be difficult to explain.”
Orpheus’s mother, Calliope is the oldest of the nine muses (well, there’s some debate about that, but in most myths), and the goddess of music, song, dance, eloquence, and epic poetry. She was considered to be the wisest of all the muses and the most assertive. Depending on the myths, Orpheus’s father was either Apollo or a Thracian King named Oeagrus (that she was married to). Orpheus may have had a brother named Linus (or he could have been the child of another muse depending on the myth) who taught him music. She may have also had several children by Ares.
Once, she had a singing duel with several daughters of the King of Thessaly (Pierus), and upon soundly defeating the princesses, turned them into magpies.